Health officials admit with growing numbers, the current practice is “not working”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Three more women have tested positive for COVID-19 in New Providence.
The women are aged 22, 37, and 70-years-old and are all in isolation at home.
As the number of people in self-isolation increases, health officials have been in discussions about the use of an electronic wrist band that could monitor those affected remotely.
As of Saturday, there were just under 900 people in quarantine, either at home or in government facilities — an increase from the 712 people in quarantine as of Wednesday.
This is nearly a tripling of since April 9, when 344 people were in quarantine.
There have been 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas — 49 in New Providence, seven in Grand Bahama, one in Bimini and one in Cat Cay.
According to Saturday’s dashboard, 10 people have recovered from the virus.
During a broadcasted press conference on Thursday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan advised there were concerns about a number of people who were asked to self-isolate and self-quarantine not following the guidelines.
“We utilize both methods of self-quarantine, self-isolation or mandatory, but we are definitely looking at how we will strengthen our monitoring and ensure that persons actually self-quarantine and self-isolate when we ask that to happen.”
When asked how healthcare providers were seeking to ensure strict compliance of such a large number of people, particularly given the risk of non-compliance to the wider public, former Chief Medical Officer Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis said health officials recognized the status-quo “is no working”.
“There was a very spirited discussion that we had on what might be used to facilitate contact tracing.
“And, I’m sure that question was predicated on the use of bands, hand bands with a chip in it and to work with the telecommunications companies to really identify the location and the compliance.
“That has been the most recent suggestion, recognizing that we don’t have enough for ankle bracelets and that would be rather draconian, but we are looking at an application that we can use and that’s cost effective because we recognize what we are doing is not working.”
Countries included South Korea, which had over 30,000 people in self-isolation as of March, launched a smartphone application that could monitor citizens on lockdown.
Hong Kong made a similar move, introducing electronic wristbands for quarantined people to wear in an attempt to stop potential asymptomatic “super spreaders” from interacting with the public.
Security agencies in Western Australia have pumped $3 million into 200 electronic ankle bracelets with GPS tracking capabilities for those who break quarantine.
The Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) COVID-19 Task Force recommended that the government partner with telecommunications companies to create an application that would facilitate the monitoring of patients, who were self-isolating.
Several non-governmental organizations, including Save The Bays and Organization for Responsible Governance have suggested the measure is worth consideration, though ORG Executive Director Matt Aubrey insisted such an application should be careful not to further infringe of privacy or breach individuals’ health information.